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FE degree students 'lack awareness' of university

One in six students studying for degrees at FE colleges thought they had actually applied to study at a university, research carried out by the University of Sheffield, the University of London's Institute of Education and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has found. Most students take degrees in FE colleges due to the courses on offer and the desire to learn close to home, the report concluded. But it also noted a "lack of awareness about university-based education" among higher education students in colleges. The report found that most HE students in colleges were the first in their family to study for a degree, and few had any real knowledge about universities. As a result, degrees taught in FE are largely viewed by managers as complementing, rather than competing with, universities. About one in every 12 HE students is taught in a college.

Discrepancy may land adult learners with VAT bill

Adult learners who take qualifications through independent learning providers could be forced to pay VAT on the new 24+ Advanced Learning Loan, it has emerged. While students in colleges are exempt from having to pay an additional 20 per cent, those studying through other providers could lose out. Graham Hoyle, chief executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, broke the news of the funding "nonsense" to delegates at the organisation's annual conference last week. The policy was confirmed by a spokesman from HM Revenue and Customs.

Careers advice inquiry seeks submissions

The Education Select Committee has launched an inquiry into pre-GCSE careers guidance offered to pupils by schools. This follows the new statutory duty on schools to secure access to "independent and impartial careers guidance" for their pupils from September. Colleges and other providers have repeatedly complained that pupils are not being informed about their options to study within the FE sector. The committee is inviting written submissions on the current state of careers advice in schools. The deadline for submissions is 3 September.

Enterprising college celebrates 50 years

Barking and Dagenham College last week celebrated its 50th birthday. The college is a member of the Gazelle group, which aims to encourage students to develop their own business ideas. Speakers at a celebration dinner included David Wilson, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills' deputy director of enterprise policy and strategy. A college spokeswoman said that the college worked to "provide real work for learners through various innovative initiatives, including its enterprise academy".

Charity's plan for woodland skills fund takes root

An education charity has stumped up #163;250,000 to fund a new programme of growth in traditional woodland skills. The donation from the Ernest Cook Trust will pay for a programme of training in endangered rural skills, including three-year coppicing apprenticeships. Trust director Nicholas Ford said: "We wanted to mark the trust's 60th year by making a major investment in traditional rural skills. We chose coppicing and green woodworking as this ancient skill is in real danger of dying out." The trust was founded in 1952 by philanthropist Ernest Cook, a grandson of travel agency founder Thomas Cook.

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